Fed chief Yellen sees ‘long slog’ ahead for Nevada recovery

WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen didn’t deliver much optimism on Thursday about recovery for Nevada, saying it will be “some years” before the state returns to a normal economy.

While housing prices are rising and investors are returning, “it’s still going to be a long slog before things are back to normal in the housing market in Nevada and some of those hard-hit areas,” Yellen said.

“Unfortunately Nevada is one of the states that has been most badly affected,” by economic downturn, she said during an appearance before the Senate Banking Committee, where one of her questioners was Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

Heller asked Yellen for her assessment of Nevada more than six years after economic collapse. He said a recent report from the St. Louis Federal Reserve branch concluded the nation “is a lot closer to a normal economy than we’ve been in a long time,” but it doesn’t feel that way in the Silver State.

“I can tell you right now Nevada is nowhere close to a normal economy,” he said, with unemployment at 8.8 percent – second highest in the nation — and many homeowners still underwater on their mortgages.

For Nevada, “is this a new normal?” Heller asked.

Nevada “had one of the biggest booms in housing and about the biggest bust of any market of this country,” Yellen said. She said the state still is “some years” away from what might be considered a normal economy.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact Stephens Washington Bureau chief Steve Tetreault at 202-783-1760 or STetreault@stephensmedia.com. Follow @STetreaultDC on Twitter